вторник, 10 декабря 2019 г.

Ice in Motion: Satellites Capture Decades of Change













NASA - Operation IceBridge Mission patch.

Dec. 10, 2019

New time-lapse videos of Earth’s glaciers and ice sheets as seen from space – some spanning nearly 50 years – are providing scientists with new insights into how the planet’s frozen regions are changing.

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Granite Celtic Head found at Bulcamp, Suffolk, Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, 8.12.19.

Granite Celtic Head found at Bulcamp, Suffolk, Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, 8.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

Multiple correlations between brain complexity and locomotion pattern in vertebrates


Researchers at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, have uncovered multi-level relationships between locomotion - the ways animals move - and brain architecture, using high-definition 3D models of lizard and snake brains.

Multiple correlations between brain complexity and locomotion pattern in vertebrates
High-definition 3D reconstructions of whole-brains in the facultative bipedal brown basilisk lizard (Basiliscus vittatus,
left panel) and golden flying snake (Chrysopelea ornata, right panel), highlighting the morphological
variation in cerebellar architecture associated with locomotor specialization
[Credit: Simone Macri & Nicolas Di-Poi, University of Helsinki]
The new study unveils the existence of multiple correlations between brain complexity and locomotion pattern in vertebrates, indicating that locomotion mode is a strong predictor of cerebellar size, shape, neuron organization, and gene expression levels. This demonstrates the existence of specific type of brain shared by animals with lifestyle or behavior similarities.


"The cerebellum is a major component of the brain that contributes to coordination, precision, and accurate timing of movement, and the diversity of this brain region is remarkable across vertebrates", describes Principal Investigator Nicolas Di-Poi, Associate Professor at the Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki.

Research studies have previously shown that behavioral and ecological factors such as diet, habitat, locomotion, cognitive abilities and lifespan play an important role in driving animal brain evolution. However, comparative studies have so far largely focused on brain size measurements, and the ecological relevance of potential multi-level variations in brain morphology and architecture had remained unclear until now.


Researchers from the University of Helsinki hypothesized that in addition to expected morphological changes in limb and skeletal structures, the ways animals move from one place to another could be a strong predictor of brain complexity at various levels of biological organization, including size, shape, neuron organization and gene expression pattern.


Based on contrast-enhanced computed tomography technology and high-resolution manual segmentation, "we present here one of the first sets of high-definition 3D reconstructions of whole-brains in vertebrates", says the first author of the study, PhD candidate Simone Macri from the University of Helsinki.

To test this hypothesis, the research group used squamate reptiles - lizards and snakes - as the main animal model because of their high levels of morphological diversity and unique behavioral features. One major challenge the group faced was to collect a representative panel of more than 100 reptile specimens with different locomotor modes, ranging from small worm-like limbless species digging and living underground to four-limbed species with facultative bipedal or flying capabilities. Such effort has involved active collaborations with museums, personal breeders and collaborators.

The findings are published in Nature Communications.

Source: University of Helsinki [December 05, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

New cretaceous mammal provides evidence for separation of hearing and chewing modules


A joint research team led by MAO Fangyuan from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and MENG Jin from the American Museum of Natural History reported a new symmetrodont, Origolestes lii, a stem therian mammal from the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota, in China's Liaoning Province.

New cretaceous mammal provides evidence for separation of hearing and chewing modules
Reconstructed environment when Origolestes lii died at rest
[Credit: ZHAO Chuang]
A key feature of Origolestes is that the bone link between the auditory bones and Meckel's cartilage has disappeared, showing the separation of the hearing and chewing modules in therian mammalian evolution. Their findings were published in Science.


The new species was established based on multiple 3D skeletal specimens. The researchers reconstructed 3D skeletal morphologies of the animal using high-resolution microtomography (micro CT). The buried forms of the specimens show that these animals died at rest. As a result, the skeletons were basically undisturbed during fossilization, thus allowing the detailed structures to be preserved.

Skull morphologies, dentitions, jaws, and tooth wear from individuals of the same species show evidence of opening and closing movements during the biting and chewing process as well as jaw yawing and rolling.

New cretaceous mammal provides evidence for separation of hearing and chewing modules
The holotype of Origolestes lii in ventral (left) and dorsal (right) views
[Credit: MAO Fangyuan]
"The multidirectional movements of the mandibular during chewing are likely to be one of the selection pressures that caused the detachment of the auditory ossicles from the dental bone and the Meckel's cartilage," said MAO.


This decoupled feature in Origolestes bridges the morphological gap between the transitional and the definitive mammalian middle ear and represents a more advanced stage in the evolution of the mammalian middle ear.

From the perspective of morphology and function, the decoupled hearing and chewing modules eliminated physical constraints that interfered with each other and possibly increased the capacity of the two modules to evolve.

New cretaceous mammal provides evidence for separation of hearing and chewing modules
Artistic reconstruction of the environmental setting (in landscape view) when the animal
(Origolestes lii) died. The specimens came from the Lujiatun beds of the Yixian Formation,
Liaoning Province, China, which has generated the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota.
The artwork shows that the animal died at rest, a condition similar to those
 found in other vertebrates from the same locality, including dinosaurs
[Credit: Chuang Zhao]
Therefore, the hearing module may have had greater potential to develop sensitive hearing of high frequency sounds, and the chewing module may have been able to evolve diverse tooth morphologies and occlusal patterns that facilitated consuming different foods.


Thanks to the high-resolution micro-CT scan, the researchers were able to image the 3D ossicular morphologies of Origolestese. These morphologies are probably the most complete among known Mesozoic mammals and provide rich and unequivocal fossil evidence for future study of the mammalian middle ear evolution.

A special feature of Origolestes is that its middle ear also retained the surangular bone, in addition to the stapes, malleus, incus, and ectotympanic, which all mammals have. It is notably absent in other mammals.

New cretaceous mammal provides evidence for separation of hearing and chewing modules
CT-rendered specimens of Origolestes lii showing similar
at rest postures [Credit: MAO Fangyuan]
This feature poses a challenging problem for the study of paleomammals and modern developmental biology: Was this ossicular bone completely lost during mammalian evolution or does it persist in extant mammals in a way that people don't notice? More discoveries of relevant fossils and more detailed studies of developmental biology may eventually answer this question.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences [December 05, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Cuneiform reveals shared birthplace


Assyriologists in Leiden have been conducting research into ancient clay tablets from the Middle East for 100 years already. What exactly do these clay tablets tell us? And why is Leiden such a good place to study them?

Cuneiform reveals shared birthplace
Credit: Leiden University
Professor of Assyriology Caroline Waerzeggers strides through the library of the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), dodging past students and bookshelves, before she comes to a sudden halt at a safe door. She fiddles with the lock, the thick door slides open and she enters a room not much bigger than a toilet.


The room may be small, but the cabinets contain a veritable treasure trove of academic information. This is the Böhl collection, a collection of 3,000 clay tablets ranging in age from 2,500 to 4,000 years old. Some of the tablets are the size of a bathroom tile, but most are not much bigger than a thumbnail.

"It's amazing to have such a fabulous collection," says Waerzeggers, as she picks up the odd clay tablet. Small lines have been etched into the tiles, as if someone has doodled stick men on them. In fact, this is cuneiform, a system of writing that people in the Middle East used to communicate with one another long before Christ was born. "The best way to learn this difficult writing system is to use real clay tablets. That's why working with this collection is so valuable to our students."

Back to the Tigris and Euphrates

Assyriology is the discipline that looks at these clay tablets and the cuneiform etched upon them. Cuneiform was used for a not inconsiderable 3,000 years in the Middle East, and many clay tablets are well preserved, offering a wealth of information about a period in which society fundamentally changed as new forms of state, religions and literature emerged. They transport you back to Mesopotamia and the fertile river system of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

Cuneiform reveals shared birthplace
Credit: Leiden University
The chair in Assyriology at Leiden is over 100 years old: the first professor of Assyriology was appointed in 1918. To mark this centenary, a conference is being held on 13 December with leading Assyriologists from Paris, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen, Heidelberg and New York.

Centre of the discipline

It all began in 1918 with Professor Gerard Jacobus Thierry, who specialised in the Old Testament and biblical languages such as Hebrew and Aramaic. He viewed his research through a very theological lens: alongside professor he was a minister for the Dutch Reformed Church. Assyriology wasn't his prime concern. "I prefer to teach the language of Isaiah [an Old Testament prophet] than that of Sennacherib [an Assyrian king]," he is supposed to have said.


This all changed in 1927, when Leiden gained an Austrian professor of Assyriology, with the mellifluous name of Franz Marius Theodor de Liagre Böhl, the namesake of the clay tablet collection. "You could say that that is when the Leiden school really began," says Waerzeggers. "Böhl was really good at conveying his fascination for the Promised Land and the clay tablets to his students and the general public. The press followed his every move. He could enthrall people with his knowledge and was very charismatic. When he traveled to Egypt, he convinced the pilot of the plane to circle the pyramids at Gizeh one more time."

Cuneiform reveals shared birthplace
Credit: Leiden University
In the decades that followed, Leiden earned a reputation as a center for the study of cuneiform. And thanks in part to the good library and collaboration with the National Museum of Antiquities, the city is still one of the top in the discipline. Leiden University organizes Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale conference once every ten years, an honor that otherwise is only bestowed on Paris. Waerzeggers: "Leiden has earned a permanent place in the spotlight, particularly when it comes to international collaboration. Both at home and abroad, Leiden is seen as one of the centers for our discipline."

Not a mere curio

However, the future is not always certain, says Waerzeggers when we are back in her office. "A discussion is raging about whether Dutch universities offer too many small degree programs. And Assyriology of all programs is often used as the proverbial example of this. It sometimes seems as though people think we're odd bods or übernerds with no relevance to society. But cuneiform isn't a curio. It was used for longer than the current era."

She means that there is so much more to study. The Assyriologists at Leiden like to seek connections with other disciplines. They like to use the technical knowhow of Delft University of Technology, for instance. Some time ago, they passed various clay tablets through a micro-CT scanner. These clay tablets are packed in a sealed envelope of clay, which means they can't be read. Thanks to the CT-scan, the Assyriologists were able to get to the valuable information without opening the envelope. There are also plans to identify the authors of clay tablets by means of the fingerprints that they left behind in the clay.

"Assyriology can also be of great value to Dutch education," Waerzeggers philosophizes aloud. "Nowadays it's all about the clash between people from different cultures and religions. In Mesopotamia, we have a shared birthplace of Europe and the Middle East."

Author: Merijn Van Nuland | Source: Leiden University [December 06, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Birdoswald West Roman Turret (Turret 49b), Birdoswald, Hadrian’s Wall, 8.12.19.

Birdoswald West Roman Turret (Turret 49b), Birdoswald, Hadrian’s Wall, 8.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam


A new and important archaeological discovery dating back to the Iron Age has been found by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture at an archaeological site in the Wilayat of Dibba, in Oman’s Musandam Governorate.

Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Credit: Ministry of Heritage and Culture Oman


The artefacts are estimated to have been created between 1300 and 100 BC. In this context, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture said, “Excavation work conducted by the Ministry with an Italian mission from the University of Rome revealed more secrets of this important archaeological site, which was first discovered in 2012, where excavation and exploration work pointed to the discovery of an oval shaped tomb built within the funerary complex. It dates back to the Iron Age and the pre-Islamic era between 100 BC and 300 AD.”

Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Credit: Ministry of Heritage and Culture Oman


Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Credit: Ministry of Heritage and Culture Oman
“The tomb includes the remains of 12 skeletons, many funerary collections such as glazed and unglazed vessels, stone and bronze vessels, swords, iron arrows, and local silver and gold ornaments imported from neighbouring civilisations,” the Ministry added


“One of the most prominent discoveries of this tomb is an amulet from Egypt found for the first time in the Sultanate of Oman. This amulet is known as the Horus Eye, also known by the name of the Wadjet, Wadjat or Aujat. In the Egyptian civilisation it symbolises protection, royal power and good health. The amulets were often made in the form of a Horus Eye found by archaeologists in the form of a necklace or fences. This is a traditional custom of the Egyptian civilisation and certainly the Horus Eye was the main element in the bracelets of a number of mummies prepared to protect the Pharaoh after life.”

Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Credit: Italian Archaeological Project to Daba - Oman


Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Iron Age graves, artefacts found in Oman’s Musandam
Credit: Italian Archaeological Project to Daba - Oman
Sultan bin Saif Al Bakri, Director General of Antiquities, said, “this necklace is the second to be found at this site, where we had previously found an amulet of the civilisations that originated in Iraq in the form of a stone inscribed with the cuneiform name De Jolla, the god of healing in the Mesopotamian civilisation. This was also used for protection and from for the deceased.

Jolla is said to be the greatest physician and healer of diseases in the Babylonian civilisation dating back to the second half of the second millennium BC. A number of related discoveries have previously found their way to the National Museum.

Source: Times of Oman [December 05, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

2019 December 10 Starlink Satellite Trails over Brazil Image...



2019 December 10

Starlink Satellite Trails over Brazil
Image Credit & Copyright: Egon Filter

Explanation: What are those streaks over the horizon? New Starlink satellites reflecting sunlight. SpaceX launched 60 Starlink communication satellites in May and 60 more in November. These satellites and thousands more are planned by communications companies in the next few years that may make streaks like these relatively common. Concern has been voiced by many in the astronomical community about how reflections from these satellites may affect future observations into space. In the pictured composite of 33 exposures, parallel streaks from Starlink satellites are visible over southern Brazil. Sunflowers dot the foreground, while a bright meteor was caught by chance on the upper right. Satellite reflections are not new – the constellation of 66 first-generation Iridium satellites launched starting 20 years ago produced some flares so bright that they could be seen during the day. Most of these old Iridium satellites, however, have been de-orbited over the past few years.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191210.html



* This article was originally published here

Roman Shield Boss, (1st Century CE), Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, 8.12.19.

Roman Shield Boss, (1st Century CE), Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, 8.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

World's oldest silk fabrics discovered in central China


Chinese archaeologists have used new technology to ascertain the carbonized texture residue in an urn coffin buried in the Neolithic Yangshao Culture ruins in central China's Henan Province as the world's earliest found silk fabrics.

World's oldest silk fabrics discovered in central China
Carbonized silk fabrics unearthed from the Wanggou site in Liyang
[Credit: China News Agency]
"With the help of the technology of enzyme-linked-immunosorbent assay (ELISA) developed by experts in the China National Silk Museum, it has been confirmed that the carbonized fabrics taken from the urn coffin at the Wanggou site in Henan are silk fabrics," said Zhao Feng, curator of the museum on Monday.


Gu Wanfa, director of the Zhengzhou Municipal Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, said that a cluster of the Yangshao Culture ruins dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years have been found in Henan. In addition to the silk fabrics at the Wanggou site, the same fabrics were unearthed at the Qingtai site and there are bone carvings of silkworms found at the Shuanghuaishu site. All are solid evidence to prove that the ancient Chinese began raising silkworms and silk production more than 5,000 years ago.

World's oldest silk fabrics discovered in central China
Carbonized silk fabrics unearthed from the Wanggou site in Liyang
[Credit: China News Agency]
"The silk fabrics at the Wanggou date back between 5,300 and 5,500 years. Previously, proven silk fabrics were unearthed at the Qianshanyang site of the Liangzhu Culture dating back 4,200 to 4,400 years," Gu said.


He said through electron microscopic observation, they found fine yarns in the silk fabrics woven using four-warp twisted rods.

World's oldest silk fabrics discovered in central China
Urn coffin from which the carbonized silk was retrieved
[Credit: 
China News Agency]
The fabrics were put in the urns to wrap the bodies of the dead. At the Wanggou site, the silk remnant was found in the skull of a child. Gu said this suggests that at that time, China's silk technology had matured rather than just begun.


He said one of the fabrics was leno dyed before the weaving process. The ancestors developed the method of cooking the silk to prevent the dye from fading.

World's oldest silk fabrics discovered in central China
Archaeologists extracting the carbonized silk fabric from a coffin
[Credit: China News Agency]
Silk originated in China and later become one of the country's major trade items. However, previous technical means were not enough to detect the fiber material of carbonized textiles to provide archaeological evidence of a silk's origin.


In 2010, the China National Silk Museum began key scientific research set up by the National Cultural Heritage Administration on the origin of silk.

World's oldest silk fabrics discovered in central China
The Shuanghuai site in Gongyi, Henan
[Credit: 
China News Agency]
"As the testing technology has become more and more cost-efficient, we will carry out extensive sample testing in Yangshao Cultural ruins in Henan in order to map the origin and distribution of silk in this area," said Zhou Yang, director of the national silk research program.

The urn coffin burial found in Yangshao in central China actually resembles the shape of a silkworm pupae, which might imply ancient worship wishing that the dead can be reborn after death as a silk moth after it breaks through the cocoon, said Zhao Feng.

Source: Xinhua News Agency [December 05, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Roman Stamped Ingot, Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, 8.12.19.This ingot weighs about 1...

Roman Stamped Ingot, Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, 8.12.19.

This ingot weighs about 1 Roman pound (320 grammes) and is of the usual double axe shape. The inscription states that it was made in Curmissus’ workshop. This ingot may have been a gift to mark a new Emperor coming to power.



* This article was originally published here

Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored


A shield discovered during a housing development in Pocklington has been hailed as the 'most significant Iron Age find this century.'

Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored
Pocklington Iron Age shield following cleaning and restoration work
[Credit: MAP Archaeological Practice]
The shield was part of an impressive ‘warrior grave’ find uncovered at a Persimmon Homes ‘The Mile’ development last year and now a preservation project has revealed its full glory.

The remarkably preserved bronze shield was found laid face down in the cart of an upright chariot, which had been drawn by two ponies.


The skeleton of a post 46-year-old male was laid upon the shield and is considered to be the shield’s owner.

Experts say it is the most important British Celtic art object of the Millennium.

Specialist conservation has revealed a swirling La Tène style architecture, typical of early Celtic art, said Paula Ware, from MAP Archaeological Practice who carried out an excavation on behalf of Persimmon Homes.

Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored
The Iron Age shield emerges during excavation
[Credit: MAP Archaeological Practice]
She said the repousse design, made by hammering the bronze sheet from the underside, featured evidence of organic forms, such as spiralling mollusc shells creating a three-legged triskele motif, and the highly decorative asymmetrical design drew the eye to a central raised boss.

“The magnitude and preservation of the Pocklington chariot burial has no British parallel, providing a greater insight into the Iron Age epoch,” she said.


“The shield features a scalloped border. This previously unknown design feature is not comparable to any other Iron Age finds across Europe, adding to its valuable uniqueness.

“The popular belief is that elaborate metal-faced shields were purely ceremonial, reflecting status, but not used in battle. Our investigation challenges this with the evidence of a puncture wound in the shield typical of a sword. Signs of repairs can also be seen, suggesting the shield was not only old but likely to have been well-used,” said Paula.

Iron Age shield found during Pocklington dig fully restored
The complete chariot - with horses - found during the dig in Pocklington
[Credit: David Keys]
She said the burial was considered a final resting place for a highly regarded member of the community due to being surrounded by the remains of six pigs, believed to act as an offering, and the addition of a further burial of a younger injured male close by.

Persimmon Homes Yorkshire, who own the find, said it was planning to donate the discovery to a museum.


Scott Waters, director in charge at Persimmon Homes Yorkshire, said: “The excavation at The Mile development is a truly magnificent discovery for British history and we feel this recognition and find should remain in the local area.”

The full academic find is expected to be published in the spring, said a spokesperson.

“Excavation is now complete, and construction of the new development, which features a collection two, three, four and five-bedroom homes, is under way, with many customers already moving into their homes

Author: Mike Laycock | Source: The York Press [December 05, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

Crew Unpacks New Science from U.S. and Russian Cargo Ships













ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

December 9, 2019

Two new cargo spaceships are open for business at the International Space Station as a variety of new space research begins this week. The Expedition 61 crew has begun unpacking several tons new supplies from the U.S. and Russian space freighters.

Russia’s Progress 74 cargo craft automatically docked to the station’s Pirs docking compartment at 5:35 a.m. EST today after launching midday Friday. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka opened the hatch shortly afterward and began retrieving critical research hardware for stowage on the orbiting lab.


Image above: The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured approaching the space station (left) and after it was installed to the Harmony module (right) on Dec. 8, 2019. Image Credit: NASA.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship arrived at the station on Sunday for a capture and installation with the Canadarm2 robotic arm to the U.S. Harmony module. Commander Luca Parmitano joined NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan and quickly unpacked brand new science gear and rodents for observation aboard the space station.

NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch worked throughout Monday juggling numerous science and cargo activities. She was offloading new Dragon supplies and housing lab rodents delivered aboard the U.S. cargo craft.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Meir and Morgan started Monday with ultrasound scans of their veins and eye pressure checks for the Fluid Shifts study. Meir with assistance from Koch in the afternoon installed a bone densitometer in Japan’s Kibo lab module that will measure bone loss in microgravity.

Related article:

Russian Space Freighter Docks Automatically to Station
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2019/12/russian-space-freighter-docks.html

Related links:

Expedition 61: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition61/index.html

Pirs docking compartment: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/pirs-docking-compartment

Canadarm2: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/mobile-servicing-system.html

U.S. Harmony module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/harmony

Fluid Shifts: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=1126

Bone densitometer: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Facility.html?

Kibo lab module: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/japan-kibo-laboratory

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Greetings, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

Roman Legionary (Infantry) Helmet (1st Century CE, Weisenau Type), Tullie House Museum and Gallery,...

Roman Legionary (Infantry) Helmet (1st Century CE, Weisenau Type), Tullie House Museum and Gallery, Carlisle, 8.12.19.



* This article was originally published here

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